Missional Church or New Monasticism?

Dr. Michael Horton who teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary in California and is host of the radio show The White Horse Inn has become quite controversial in some quarters over last few years. He is a very gracious man and, though uncompromising in his theology, is willing to interact and converse publicly with those who most of us would consider to be either apostate or heretical doctrinally. On the other hand, I listen to the White Horse Inn when I can and know how solid he is doctrinally. He uses a term quite bit he refers to as the “New Reformation” and how much it is needed in the Church in our time. In this article, if you make to the end, you will see how he defines it.  Continue reading

Rob Bell is Mainline Protestant Posing as an Evangelical

by Mike Ratliff

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5 ESV)

The last couple of days at work I have been blessed with a lot of heads down work that I can do while listening to my iPod. During that time I have listened to probably six episodes of Dr. James White’s The Dividing Line via podcast. Today I finished The Dividing Line from March 15, 2011 before I got too busy to listen to any more. In any case, if you have access to the internet and can subscribe to Podcasts either via iTunes or My Yahoo then I suggest that you go here and subscribe. Find the broadcast for March 15, 2011 and when you get in your player go to the 34:50 minute mark and you will hear Dr. White begin discussing Rob Bell’s new book Love WinsContinue reading

False Teaching on How to Hear From God

by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3 ESV)

On Friday morning Ken Silva sent me an email with a link to this article he had just posted. About a third of the way down through it there is a paragraph, which really got my attention:

Men like Brian McLaren are hijacking the visible church by taking it away from the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura and into a highly subjective murky mysticism where one decides truth about God by what they “feel” He is saying. Well, guess what; this is already beginning to happen within broader evangelicalism as evidenced by The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond, the latest book by Church Growth Movement guru Bill Hybels, and Recognizing God’s Voice. The latter is the March 12-13 sermon below by Purpose beginning Pope Rick Warren where—beginning at 5:57 in—he makes the outlandish claim to his congregation that by following these 7 tests they all can be “absolutely certain” when God is speaking directly to them.

Please watch the video at this linkContinue reading

Therefore We Know That it is the Last Hour

by Mike Ratliff

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

The rage right now in the church visible is what is called Christian Universalism. This is the theology of Rob Bell as revealed in his book Love Wins. Of course he plays his usual game of never being doctrinally definite about anything so it is impossible to pin him down to anything, but as this fellow says, Rob Bell is a Universalist. He should know because he is as well. I was at a second-hand bookstore about a month ago or so looking for a Greek-English Lexicon. Before I went to where the really special books were I decided to look first in the “Christian” book section, hoping that, perhaps, some seminary dropout had sold his Mounce Greek reference books and I would be the first to pounce on them. But, instead, I encountered two women excitedly talking about a book one of them had pulled from that stack by Rob Bell titled Velvet Elvis. One of the women was trying to convince the other how special it was and why she should buy it. I did not mean to listen, but I kept waiting for some sort of sound Biblical or Orthodox Christian reason that the other woman should buy that book. All I heard was that it was “really cool” and made the first woman feel “special.” I just shook my head, walked over to the reference section, and found a great buy on a 1999 edition from Oxford Press of Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon for $12.00. I think I got a better deal.  Continue reading

Put Away

by Mike Ratliff

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV)

Much that is wrong that is causing the confusion in the church visible all around us right now is the result of complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a true disciple of Christ, a Christian. John MacArthur’s new book, Slave, is a great source for believers to read and then understand their true role in the Kingdom of God. Back in the late 1980’s a good friend at our church gave me a book by John MacArthur. It was the first edition of his book The Gospel According to Jesus. I believe I read it in just a few days. I have read it two more times since then. I have also read his books The Gospel According to the Apostles and Ashamed of the Gospel. There is a common theme in all of them my brethren and it is one that detractors of John MacArthur hate because that theme is directed to correct them. That theme is all through his new book, Slave, as well. What is it? It is that Jesus Christ is Lord and those who belong to Him are his δοῦλοί (slaves).  Continue reading

The Judgment at Christ’s Coming

by Mike Ratliff

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18, 19 ESV)

I am in the process of reading John MacArthur’s new book Slave. I have heard that some who despise his stand on Lordship Salvation have said that this book is simply another book about the Lordship of Christ. I am about 1/3 of the way through it and that statement is an oversimplification to be sure, but, in a sense, it is correct. When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then this whole Lordship Salvation debate just looks silly. We do not make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies have an end that Paul calls “destruction.”  Continue reading

An Example of a False Dichotomy

by Mike Ratliff

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,

lest you take part in her sins,

lest you share in her plagues;

for her sins are heaped high as heaven,

and God has remembered her iniquities.

Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,

and repay her double for her deeds;

mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. (Revelation 18:4-6 ESV)

In the March 2011 Tabletalk Magazine by Ligonier Ministries on pp54-55 is an article by Rev. Kevin DeYoung titled “Heresy of the Free Spirit.” The author is a member of the Acts 29 church planting network team. He is not “emergent” or “emerging.” At least he claims he is not. He has written several books among them is Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. I would like to remind you of our discussions over the last several weeks about the Christian’s responsibility regarding the doctrine of Unity and Separation as well as our brother Daniel Chew’s debate with Frank Turk regarding these very same issues. The link to that debate is here. This is neither a minor issue nor is it a simple one, therefore, we must pray for wisdom and discernment that we may do what is right in the eyes of our Lord in this, not in the eyes of man. Continue reading

Is This Wise Counsel?

by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 ESV)

I have been contacted from two separate readers with information about something Dr. James MacDonald is promoting in his Walk in the Word Ministry called The Elephant Room. Here is the invite to the event:

If you’ve heard about the Elephant Room but haven’t made a decision on whether or not to attend, I want to get your ear for just a minute – because this event is for you! As a listener of Walk in the Word, I know you are interested in truth and battling for truth is what the Elephant Room is all about. So think of this as my personal invitation.

Listen to why I am fired up about this event and why I want you to be part of the conversation.

James Macdonald

Well, I and most of you, are most certainly interested in truth and battling for truth. He states that the “conversation” at this event will be all about that. He also states that he is “fired up about it” and wants all who received that invitation to not only be part of the conversation, but (not included in my excerpt) was hints to send the invite to others via other media, et cetera. If you clicked on that link for The Elephant Room then you already know who those men are that are going to be part of the conversation and I doubt very seriously if any solid Biblical truth will be at the core of that.  Continue reading

The Second Death

by Mike Ratliff

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,

and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:40-42 ESV)

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:42-50 ESV)

It is utterly amazing to me to listen to or read what some who claim to be Christians these days have to say about the Doctrine of Hell. Of course, Rob Bell has his new book out, Love Wins, and is making the tour to promote it. Here are two excellent sources for you on this. Go here for an article by my good friend Ken Silva. I suggest you also watch the video at the end by someone that I believe to be an even worse heretic than Bell, Carlton Pearson. The second link, here, is an actual interview of Rob Bell by Martin Bashir on MSNBC. As I listened to both of the videos, I was simply dumbfounded at the temporal focus of both Carlton Pearson and Rob Bell. Regardless of Martin Bashir’s theology, I thought he did a fine job of not letting Rob Bell off the hook. He would not let him use double talk or trivialize the profoundness of the Gospel. We need some Theologians who are not afraid to confront heretics like Rob Bell and Pearson and not let them get away with their doublespeak and scripture twisting.  Continue reading

Christian Behavior

by Mike Ratliff

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:10-19 ESV)

I find it unfortunate that in our day Christian leaders are so public that they almost have “super star” status and their persona is so visible that it is as if they are the very presence of God on earth, which if you think about it, is ridiculous. None of us, no matter how mature we become as Christians or how far we go in ministry are anything more than sinners saved by grace. We make a large mistake if we look up to these people and expect them to always be perfect or infallible, et cetera. No, but what the Word of God does teach is that those God saves and grows up in Christ will take on the Character of the Son over time through the Sanctification process. That being said, we still have our heroes, but as Christians, it is a mistake to put any of them on pedestals of any kind. Instead, we should serve and obey our Lord Jesus Christ alone as we follow the men whom He has placed over us as leaders. We follow them, but we worship and serve Him alone.  Continue reading

Putting Sin to Death

by Mike Ratliff

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6 ESV)

It is one thing to compare the Biblical teaching of our Sanctification with the man-oriented false teaching that is prevalent seemingly everywhere, but then easily overlook the fact that so many believers are desperate to know how to obey the command in the passage I placed at the top of this post (Colossians 3:5-6) to put to death the sin in them. Christian living is frustrating for the truly regenerate when they forget that we are actually commanded in Sacred Scripture to “be what we already are.” That takes us aback because we do not “feel” Holy or Christlike. Why? Our repeated sins lead us to believe that are anything but. Then we hear false teachers like Rick Warren and his followers tell us that what we need is his program of behavior modification to fix us right up. When I was a youth, the big thing was “let go and let God.” Well, that didn’t work either. Both trying hard to not sin through some program and simply “letting go” to have God take over leads to the inevitable breeding of discouragement, apathy, and the lowering of God’s standards.  Continue reading

Sanctification – More than Behavior Modification

by Mike Ratliff

I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Romans 6:19 ESV)

Sanctification: “The work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” – The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q.35)

This post came about from a discussion among our discernment group today about this article/video by John Piper. My initial response went something like, “isn’t what Piper and Warren and these guys doing is substituting Transformational stuff for Biblical Sanctification. In other words, we become more and more self-able, self-sufficient instead of more and more humble and dependent upon the grace of God, which is what Christian maturity is all about.” From that I began working out how to build this post around contrasting real, Biblical Sanctification with this manmade, self-made stuff that Rick Warren and the behavior modification gurus that follow him teach. What I came up with is that you should go to John Piper’s link and watch his video and/or read the post there then read the technical stuff below that I have condensed from a Theology manual. Then at the end, I will give you three links to articles I posted back in September on Sanctification. I think you will see that Biblical Sanctification is quite different than what these people are teaching.  Continue reading

The Gospel

by Mike Ratliff

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)

We have been discussing the horrific battles for truth that the church is undergoing with the attacks from the Federal Vision Heresy creeping in and gaining acceptance with many who claim to be orthodox while on a totally different front, the Seeker Sensitive leaven has caused those in our churches to never be fed the truth from the Word so those left to fight the fight are the ones who have seen the dangers, refused to compromise, turned from them, and have either fled or were ousted from those dead or dying churches. God is drawing us together because we need each other. It is amazing how often I hear the same story about how a local church was taken over, changed and ripped away and now good Christian people have no local church home. Oh, they could attend a local church if they wanted to tolerate the leaven, but we were warned by our Lord to beware of that because it contaminates and ruins the whole lump.  Continue reading